These are great and momentous days for the young people! It is up to us to instill in their hearts just how great they are!
First Confession is practiced and sins are talked about. And when the great day arrives, and the sins are washed from the soul of the little person, we celebrate by letting them choose any ice cream on the menu at our local restaurant….hot fudge sundae, banana split… it doesn’t matter. It is a great day!
First Communion should be approached as the best day of your children’s lives! Because it is! Much studying is done to know all the Catechism questions before being quizzed by Father. Much to-do is made getting the prettiest dress for the little girl and the crisp and dapper suit for the little boy.
And when the great day comes….Mom and Dad, brothers, sisters, Grandpa, Grandma, cousins and friends are present as Our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is consumed for the first time by our little loved one!
And then…we feast!
Confirmation is made special by the studying and the feasting, too! The young men and women must know what it means to have the Holy Spirit come to them in this special way. They are now soldiers of Jesus Christ! It is no little thing!
By Maria Von Trapp, Around the Year with the Trapp Family
Then there is first Confession. To turn such a day into a “holy day,” we parents should prepare ourselves for it by special study and much prayer in order to be able to give the child an even deeper understanding of what he is going to do when he kneels down and confesses—not to Father So-and-So, but to God Himself—all the wrongs that cloud his young conscience.
When he is going to hear for the first time the momentous words, “Your sins are forgiven!” we help him realize with chalk and blackboard what will happen to him. We write down a list of sins such as a child may commit, and then we take a wet cloth and erase them completely and ask the child, “Can you still read what was there? Just like this, God will erase your sins from His memory. He will forgive them completely.”
We cannot do enough to impress the young soul with the tremendous happening at the moment of the Ego to absolve (I absolve you). Of course, the child should remember the day of his First Confession and always later celebrate this anniversary as a private feast day just between himself and God.
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
Then comes the great day when the young soul is for the first time invited to the heavenly banquet—the day of the first Holy Communion. It is a pity that this sacred day so often degenerates into a show, the child being showered with gifts and distracted with amusements, so that this solemn, holy feast turns into a day of much outward excitement.
Again, there is much that we Christian parents have to learn to do better. The preparation for this day, the first Holy Communion of our children, should be a holy rite and duty for every mother.
We can learn from the family of St. Therese of Lisieux how the older sisters saw to it that the younger ones were prepared sufficiently for their great day.
Of course, the whole family should join the child at the Communion Mass, everybody wearing his Sunday best. Not only the table, but the house or apartment should be decorated.
For the rest of his life, the child will remember this day. Instead of many worthless trinkets, one might buy a beautiful medal or a little cross for the child to wear, or a picture for his room, a reproduction of the old masters, or a beautiful statue.
These are formative years, and it is our privilege to school the taste of our children, directing them away from the sweetish, coy plaster art, toward genuine art.
Another great day is the day of Confirmation, the spiritual coming of age of the young Christian. Much could we learn here from the Orthodox Jewish families and their way of celebrating the Bar-Mitzvah on the boy’s thirteenth birthday, when he becomes of age before the law.
The coming of the Holy Spirit, the sacrament of Holy Ordination for us laypeople, cannot receive enough attention. It is a great joy to help the child prepare for this, his very own, Pentecost.
With him we study the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit; we read together such books as Father Grandmaison’s We and the Holy Spirit or the chapters pertaining to the Holy Spirit in The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanquerey; unforgettable hours are thus spent, in which we accompany our sons and daughters on their road to spiritual maturity.
We have always tried to mark the day of Confirmation by a gift or an event that stresses the new status of the child as a person capable of independence and responsibility; for instance, by giving him a desk of his own, or, if possible, a room of his own. (It is a custom to give a watch on Confirmation Day, to remind the young Christian that from now on he is responsible for the use of his time.)
These are the commanding high points in the lives of the young, and I feel that one can never do enough to make them into memorable events, keeping them alive in the memory of our children by celebrating the anniversaries of these days.
Children who have experienced the joy of being feasted will want to reciprocate. All the love and attention that is showered on them they will try to return just as lovingly and gratefully as their young hearts prompt them to do.
“The objection that a child should wait until he can understand what he’s doing when he receives Holy Communion is no objection at all. He understands as well at seven as at seventy. The Holy Eucharist is a mystery as profound and unfathomable as the Trinity. One does not understand how Christ can assume the form of bread and wine. One believes.” -Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children
ST. BENEDICT BRACELETS! Spiritual Protection
One of the powerful weapons in spiritual combat is the St. Benedict medal. Used for centuries, this medal has been associated with many miracles, as well as with powers of exorcism.
St. Benedict medals are used in many ways, but always as a protection against evil. Some people bury them in the foundations of new buildings to keep them free from evil influences, while others attach them to rosaries or hang them on the wall in their homes. But the most common way to use the St. Benedict medal is to wear it. The medal can be worn by itself or embedded in a crucifix.
Regardless of how it is used, the medal should always be blessed with the special St. Benedict blessing. While, in former times, only Benedictines could bless the medal, now any priest can.
To the modern mind, the concept of poverty is often confused with destitution. But destitution emphatically is not the Gospel ideal. A love-filled sharing frugality is the message, and Happy Are You Poor explains the meaning of this beatitude lived and taught by Jesus himself. But isn’t simplicity in lifestyle meant only for nuns and priests? Are not all of us to enjoy the goodness and beauties of our magnificent creation? Are parents to be frugal with the children they love so much?
For over half a century, Catholic families have treasured the practical piety and homespun wisdom of Mary Reed Newland’s classic of domestic spirituality, The Year and Our Children. With this new edition, no longer will you have to search for worn, dusty copies to enjoy Newland’s faithful insights, gentle lessons, and delightful stories. They’re all here, and ready to be shared with your family or homeschooling group. Here, too, you’ll find all the prayers, crafts, family activities, litanies, and recipes that will help make your children ever-mindful of the beautiful rhythm of the Church calendar.